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U.S. Soldier Showed Signs Of Violence Before Afghan Massacre

File photo of Robert Bales
File photo of Robert Bales

A U.S. soldier convicted two years ago for slaughtering 16 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, exhibited warning signs of violent behavior, but none that indicated he was capable of such a crime, a military investigation found August 18.

Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who is serving life in prison, assaulted an Afghan truck driver a month before the August 2013 killings, used steroids and alcohol in violation of military prohibitions, and was described as an "angry drunk."

But the problem behavior did "not rise to the level of warnings" that he would commit a large-scale atrocity, the report released by U.S. Central Command said.

Still, it said soldiers higher in Bales' chain of command should have been more wary after the earlier incidents, including Bales once telling fellow soldiers to "shoot through" an Afghan soldier because "he is not a person," and a remark that he was not a racist "unless you count Afghanis or Iraqis."

The racial slurs and other "low standards of personal conduct" were part of a "lax atmosphere that appeared to have been tolerated by some mid-level leaders," the investigation found.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters